In 2008, Russia attacked Georgia and unleashed the first in the 21st century war against another country in Europe. It began on the night of August 8, when Russian troops crossed the Georgian border. Since then, a bloody date has been engraved in history: 08.08.08. This day can be considered the first open military aggression in a series of subsequent wars led by Putin’s Russia in the 21st century to which the world community did not respond properly and in a timely manner. Therefore, new adventures of the Kremlin were realized in the future: the conquest of the Ukrainian Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine.
The preconditions for Russia’s aggression against Georgia were laid in the 1990s, when the Moscow-backed separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared “independence” from Georgia. After the local wars, Russia imposed a truce on Georgia and placed its “peacekeepers” in the conflict zone. But Moscow did not adhere to the principle of neutrality, ignoring systematic ceasefire violations by South Ossetian “militia”. In addition, Russian passports were issued en masse to residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
On the eve of the invasion of Georgia, Russia conducted large-scale military exercises Caucasus-2008. Increasing the intensity of provocations, Moscow was waiting for a good excuse for open aggression. Their excuse was the Georgian army’s attempt to put an end to the Ossetian shelling and the creeping occupation of the border territories.
Photo from InformNapalm’s OSINT research on the participation of the 417th separate reconnaissance battalion of the Russian Armed Forces in the occupation of the cities of Gori and Tskhinvali in 2008
On August 8, Russia announced the protection of “its citizens” in Georgia. Russian military aircraft attacked Georgian positions. By Kremlin’s order, the Russian army bombed towns, ports and military facilities throughout Georgia. Russia launched an offensive from the territory of Abkhazia. In addition to the two separatist regions, the adjacent Georgian territories were occupied. The Russians almost completely destroyed the Georgian navy on the Black Sea.
Though the Georgians had some success, such as the defeat of the staff convoy of the Russian 58th Army and the destruction of the Tu-22M bomber, the forces of the parties were too unequal. As Russian troops advanced and threatened the capital city of Tbilisi, Georgian authorities declared a unilateral ceasefire. Georgia had launched peace initiatives, but Russian shelling continued.
Five days of war claimed hundreds of lives. Thousands were left homeless. Almost 20% of the sovereign country is still occupied by Russian troops and Kremlin-controlled forces. The political outcome of the war was Moscow’s de jure recognition of the “independence” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the curtailment of previous peacekeeping formats, and the further militarization of the occupied territories.
Map of Georgia. The occupied regions are marked in red / Source: Georgian Foreign Ministry.
“Creeping occupation” and kidnapping
But Russia has not stopped there, and today the “creeping occupation” continues: Russian border guards periodically move their positions deeper into Georgia, expanding the occupied territory. Also, Russian special services and Russian-controlled gangs in the surrounding areas kidnap Georgian citizens who are sometimes returned for ransom, and sometimes brutally tortured and killed.
Russia also uses the occupied territories of Georgia as hubs for aggression against Ukraine.
OSINT research of occupation
Volunteers of InformNapalm international intelligence community have collected a significant amount of information about servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces who took part in the aggression against Georgia or serve in the occupation forces. In particular, data on soldiers and officers of the 7th Russian Military Base (military unit 09332) based near Gudauta, and the 4th Military Base (military unit 66431) based in Tskhinvali and Java.
Servicemen of these Russian military bases also took an active part in the aggression against Ukraine.
List of studies on aggression against Georgia
Russia’s unpunished armed aggression against the sovereign state of Georgia in 2008 and the sluggish reaction of the world community laid the groundwork for the Kremlin’s further military adventures in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Russia’s appetites are growing and more and more countries are falling victim to a hybrid war involving both regular Russian forces and armed proxy groups. For many years, Ukraine has remained the target of Russian aggression which potentially can also spread to Belarus and the Baltic states. Only a consolidated reaction from the world community, the strengthening of economic sanctions and the support for the liberation of the occupied territories can force the aggressor to abandon its further plans. The price of aggression must become unaffordable for Russia, and the top military-political leadership and war criminals must be punished fairly. Because unpunished evil grows.
Translated by Svitlana Kemblowski. Distribution and reprint with reference to the source is welcome! (Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0) InformNapalm social media pages: Facebook / Twitter / Telegram
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